Thelema Mountain Wine Melrose MA
Thelema: Consistent Quality from Mountain Vineyards
Thelema Mountain Vineyards is famous for rich Cabernet Sauvignon with a distinctive mint note. Thomas Webb recently arranged a vertical tasting of Cabernet for us at the vineyard with winemaker Rudi Schultz, who shares winemaking duties with proprietor and cellarmaster Gyles Webb, who gained experience making wine at Heitz in California in the 1980s before starting his own winery. Thelema is a 157 ha family estate just 6 km from Stellenbosch on the slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain. With mostly south-facing vineyards at altitudes ranging from 370 to 640 m, it is one of the coolest and highest altitude growing sites in the Stellenbosch region. It is a beautiful place, both for growing grapes and for admiring the stunning views of the Drakenstein and Jonekershoek mountains. In 2000, Thelema added the cool-climate Sutherland estate located in Elgin to its properties. The U.S. importer is Cape Classics of New York.
Cabernet is what Thelema does best, and despite the arrival in recent years of several high-priced, flashy competitors, Thelema Cabernet it still the benchmark for South Africa. We tasted three vintages—2007, 2001, and 1997—at the winery, but over the years we’ve tasted many other vintages. Irrespective of vintage and age, there is a consistent house style that is very attractive—stylish and sleek with firm, ripe tannins and great balance with rich cassis, cocoa, and, of course, notes of mint. The mint comes from the eucalyptus oil that blows onto the vines from the row of trees visible at the back of the vineyard. Beginning in 2004 Thelema began bottling Cabernet from the eucalyptus-affected block separately. Both the regular and “mint” bottlings are firmly tannic, and, as our tasting shows, the wines can easily age for well over a decade.
Thelema 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Stellenbosch ($41) 91+
One expects richness and complexity from a Thelema Cabernet, and the just-released 2007 vintage doesn’t disappoint. Dark ruby in color, cedar fruit, cassis and dark plum show on the nose. There’s beautiful purity of fruit on the palate with chalky, ripe tannins and a lovely long finish with dark chocolate notes. The grapes are destalked, hand-sorted, and the wines spends 18 months in 40% new oak. A superb wine!
Thelema 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon The Mint Stellenbosch ($41) 91+
From a vineyard plated in 1985 with a border of eucalyptus trees that lends an attractive eucalpytus oil/mint note to the wine. There’s dark fruit, chocolate, cedar, and mint herbs on the nose and roundly textured palate. Spends 18 months in French oak, 40% new, and it’s beautifully integrated. Very attractive and perfect for lamb!
Thelema 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Stellenbosch
This is a dark garnet ruby wine from a good, even vintage. It shows earthy complexity, cedar and plum fruit on the nose and a lush palate of rich black and red fruit. Ready to drink now, but th...
Wine 'Doggy Bag' Regulations in Massachusetts
ABCC regulations issued pursuant to Chapter 33 of the Acts of 2006 allows a licensed restaurant or hotel dining room patron to remove one partially consumed bottle of wine that has been purchased with a meal. The bottle that is removed must be placed in a one-time-use tamper proof transparent bag with the meal receipt attached to the sealed bag.